Shopping. God how I used to love it. Before I had kids that is. Do you remember what it was like? Wandering aimlessly from shop to shop with no real purpose other than to spend your hard earned cash. Spending an HOUR deciding whether you wanted that Top Shop slinky number in bottle green or burnt orange. And then buying both, reasoning you would take one back (even though you knew you wouldn’t). Hanging around the make-up counter in Selfridges in the hope someone would spot you and offer you a free make over. Seeing the number of bags you were holding as a badge of honour and a chance to tone those biceps. Leaving the shop when you were actually finished shopping.
Fast forward five years and two kids later and shopping has become, well, how shall I put it, one of two things. Either a hazy, distant memory (unless you count buying things you don’t need on Amazon Prime just because you still haven’t gotten over the fact that you can actually receive something 12 hours after you hit “Buy”). Or a complete fucking nightmare. Let me elaborate further on the latter and welcome the un-initiated to the Top 6 worst things about shopping with children.
Parking. I have to admit, I wasn’t the best at parking before I had children. Now, however, I am a complete disaster. I’m surprised I haven’t wiped out a pensioner or two to be completely honest. Or maybe I have and I just haven’t noticed. At least pre-children I had the benefit of silence and the ability to concentrate. Now I have to park with World War 3 taking place in the back seat (whilst simultaneously being pelted with rice cakes). Then, guaranteed the only place you can park is in a space too small for your car on the roof of the car park. Where it will be raining. In the tropical sense of the word. Where your child will dive in front of the first car he sees as if his life depended on it. But you won’t even notice because you are too busy wrestling a buggy out of the boot whilst your second child screams at the sheer audacity of still being in her car seat 20 seconds after the engine has been turned off. Even when you have successfully packed one in the buggy and rescued the other from the jaws of death, you can guarantee the lift down to the shops will be broken. Whereupon you will probably give up and go home.
Shopping. That’s the loosest use of the word by the way. You won’t actually “do” any shopping. You will argue, you will cajole, you will shout and you will sweat. A lot. You will go to the toilet several times but never to do a wee yourself. If you are lucky you might pick up random items that look vaguely purchase-able. If you are even luckier you might buy something. In the wrong size.
Changing rooms. If they don’t lock, you are basically fucked. Plain and simple. Expect to see your child legging it out the shop whilst you reveal your underwear and your post pregnancy body to the world at large. If they do lock, you might buy yourself a bit more time, but you will need to change out of your old clothes, into the new ones, out of the new ones and back into your old ones in precisely 30 seconds before your children break the lock and scenario one takes place regardless.
Meal times. Remember when lunch was the pleasant one hour break you had between shops when you sipped on a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, texted your friends and analysed a menu for what felt like days? Now lunch (if you can even be bothered to brave it) is a military operation. You go, you sit, you run after children, you pay for food that won’t be eaten. And then you leave.
Carrying bags. You are no longer the gorgeous lady who shops and displays her bags with pride. Now you are weird bag lady with a coat half off, a nappy bag round your neck and sweat dripping down your back. In fact, you look a bit like that women who feeds the pigeons in Mary Poppins.
Going home. This used to be the sad part. Now the minute you get back to your car, throw your bags in the boot, strap the children into their car seats and wrestle the buggy into the boot, throw your coat off and start the engine, it will feel like the best feeling in the world. You will also vow to yourself never ever ever to repeat the experience of physical shopping again. And then you will console yourself by getting straight on Amazon and buying everything online the minute you get home.